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How is collaborative divorce different from other divorce options?

Sign the agreement The Concept of Legal Procedure and Litigation

Going through a divorce is rarely an easy process, but it does not have to be the knock-down, drag-out conflict that many people assume it to be. With the help of a collaborative divorce attorney in Illinois, many couples are choosing to avoid a typical divorce that takes place inside a courtroom for a straight-forward, respectful divorce that leaves both parties in agreement.

Divorcing spouses often have a lot of tough decisions to make regarding almost every aspect of the marriage they are ending. While some couples are able to easily agree on how their property should be divided, custody (parental responsibility) arrangements or even what to do with the family home, others require the assistance of attorneys and the court to come up with a solution. Those couples who fall somewhere in the middle may benefit from using mediation and collaborative divorce as an alternative to a traditional litigious divorce.

The basics of collaborative law

When a couple decides to go through a collaborative divorce process to end a marriage, both spouses hire separate lawyers who have been trained in collaborative law. Each spouse and their lawyers sign a participation agreement, which is a contract stating that both parties will cooperate with each other using respect and honesty in order to reach a settlement without the need for court intervention. This signed agreement can go a long way in keeping each spouse committed to following through with a non-adversarial divorce.

In addition to a collaborative divorce attorney in Illinois, couples often utilize other professionals, including the following:

  • Financial advisors
  • Child therapists
  • Mediators
  • Mental health professionals

Each of these experts can offer specialized advice and guidance on a wide range of issues that divorce brings up. Building a team is a good way for each spouse to have resources designed to make the process more effective.

A focus on the future

A collaborative divorce attorney in Illinois knows that many couples who end up in court for their divorce spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the past problems of their marriage. There are plenty of reasons that a couple may choose to separate, and each of those reasons has the potential to cause conflict. However, with a collaborative divorce, each spouse is dedicated to keeping past issues where they belong. The purpose of working together is to come up with a plan for the future, both for the couple and for their children.

Reduced conflict

Ending a marriage, even collaboratively, is not without its difficulties. There are many decisions that a couple must make that can bring up intense emotions. In Illinois, couples are required to divide their property following the state’s equitable distribution laws. It can be a challenge for some spouses to let go of the assets that they feel should belong under their ownership. Similarly, figuring out child custody (parental responsibility) schedules can make some parents feel as though they are losing valuable time with their children. These issues, as well as others, have a tendency to create conflict. However, the neutral third parties involved in the collaborative divorce process can help reduce the likelihood of conflicts by encouraging problem solving through direct communication and negotiation.

Lower cost

The expenses surrounding a traditional divorce can be significant, especially when litigation is involved. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses are obligated to provide full disclosure regarding all documents and information that are connected to the divorce. This can get rid of the need for either spouse to request depositions, written discovery or contested discovery in order to obtain all the information needed for a fair division of marital property. The cost of hiring a collaborative divorce attorney in Illinois may be much less than paying for an attorney to handle a divorce that is in litigation for a long period of time.

Minimized impact on children

Divorce inevitably has an impact on children, but collaborative divorce can help make the impact less damaging. Helping children deal with the dissolution of a marriage is what most parents want to do, but a traditional divorce can draw out the process and leave children to witness their parents’ sometimes negative discussions.

The professionals who assist in a collaborative divorce aim to insulate children from the entire process, when possible. There are many issues regarding children that parents must decide upon, like custody (parental responsibility), visitation (parenting time) and support, but experts agree that children do not need to be involved in the negotiations. Typically, parents agree to do everything possible to come to amicable solutions that are in the best interest of their children. When the focus is on promoting good relationships between each parent and his or her children, the long-term effects of a divorce can be lessened in many cases.

Determining if collaborative divorce is the right option

In order for a collaborative divorce to work, both spouses must be willing to compromise, make concessions and join forces to come to the best conclusion possible. Marriages ending due to drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or other concerns may not benefit from a collaborative divorce. In some cases, it is best to let a judge make decisions on behalf of a couple who is unable to cooperate with each other effectively.

Any couple contemplating divorce should consider whether collaborative law is the right option for them. Consulting with a legal professional may be a good way to begin discussions regarding how a divorce is to be handled.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.